This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
First race of the day a test for arch rivals Tony Estanguet & Michal Martikan in C1 heats
The Canoeing programme at the Olympic Games kicks off Wednesday at 13h30 (GMT) at the Lee Valley White Water Center where 83
paddlers from 30 countries will be vying for a total of 12 medals.
There have been a few significant changes since the Beijing Games in 2008, single poles have been introduced to aid speed down the course and there has been an introduction of the doubling up of crews, meaning that countries can now enter two C2’s instead of one. What this means is that if an athlete qualified a spot to represent their country in a single boat (C1 or K1), then the two athletes are also allowed to double up in the C2 event at the Games, thereby increasing the number of paddlers competing in the C2 class at London 2012.
The Canoe Slalom competition will call for speed, control and precision on the daunting white water rapids at the new Lee Valley White Water Centre, and here is how slalom’s finest stack up in the race for Olympic gold:
The competition in the Women’s Kayak category will be fierce but there is no doubt that the gold medal will could come down to a handful of paddlers. There is Štěpánka Hilgertová who is the only Women’s K1 paddler to have medalled at a previous Olympic Games; she won gold at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympic Games and at the age of 44, she will also be the oldest athlete at the Canoe Slalom competition.
Two paddlers competing in the Women’s K1 event have won the World Championships since Beijing. There is Germany’s Jasmin Schornberg who won the title in 2009 there is the current World Champion Austria’s Corinna Kuhnle who won the title in 2010 and 2011, making her the favourite to win K1W gold. Other names in the mix are Great Britain’s Lizzie Neave who has medalled at both the World Championships and European Championships, Spain’s Maialen Chourraut who has had a red hot season, winning two of the three World Cups this season. Of course there is Slovakia’s Jana Dukatova who finally came out of the shadow of the great Elena Kaliska (SVK) to win Olympic nomination.
Curious eyes will be on Australia’s Jessica Fox to see how she matches up against K1’s leading ladies. The 18yr old is coming off a triple gold medal spree at the 2012 ICF Junior & U23 Canoe Slalom World Championships in Wausau, Wisconsin (USA). The inaugural Singapore Youth Olympic Games Champion won the U18 Women’s C1 gold medal, retained her Women’s K1 Junior World Championship title, and won gold in the U23 Women’s C1 team event.
The Canadian singles class will have 3 previous Olympic medallists on the start list, two of whom are Olympic gold medallists. Michal
Martikán of Slovakia is the reigning Olympic champion and has already won silver medals at Athens 2004 and Sydney 2000 with gold medals at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. His performance this year shows he’s not quite in top form but history tells us that if there is anyone who can exponentially raise their level at a competition it is Michal Martikán on the Olympic platform.
Tony Estanguet will be hoping to make amends for his Beijing misadventure where he failed to make the final. Estanguet is a double
Olympic champion from Sydney and Athens and will be hoping to make it 3 in London. He will be buoyed on by a win at the Pau World Cup and bronze at the La Seu d’Urgell World Cup. London 2012 may very well be Estanguet’s final Olympic Games and the French will be looking to leaving a lasting impression.
Britain’s David Florence won Silver at Beijing 2008 and will be looking to go one up in front of a home crowd. Results this year show that Florence is in good form, medalling at 2 of 3 World Cups earlier this season.
Other names to watch out for are current European Champion Sideris Tasiadis (GER) and Ander Elosegi (ESP) who have both shown good form this season.
Similar to the ladies event there will only be one Olympic medalist racing in London at these Olympic Games, that being Togo’s Benjamin
Boukpeti. Boukpeti won bronze in Beijing and having had a quiet four years since, will be looking to deliver a bigger surprise.
There will also be two World Champions on the start list in the Men’s K1 event. Daniele Molmenti (ITA) who won the crown in 2010, and also the 2012 European Championships. The 2009 and 2011 World Champion Peter Kauzer of Slovenia will also be hoping to add Olympic gold to his vast collection of medals after missing out in Beijing four years ago.
Etienne Daille goes into the race as one of the favourites to medal having medaled at all three World Cup competitions this season.
Can anyone look any further than the Hochschorner brothers? The twin brothers have won Olympic gold an amazing 3 consecutive times! Winning in Sydney, Athens and Beijing they also are the current World Champions, and have won gold at every World Championships since Beijing. If there’s anything such as a ‘safe bet’ then the Hochschorner brothers are as close as one can get to predict a win.
Other names in the mix will be the current European champions Jaroslav Volf and Ondřej Štěpánek. They go into London having medaled at both Athens 2004 (Bronze) and Beijing 2008 (Silver) as well as the young and exciting Slovenian duo of Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat.
Britain’s very own David Florence and Richard Hounslow along with fellow compatriots Scott Baillie and Etienne Stott have a real shot to medal in the C2 event. Both having relocated to be close to the course last year and will have an undeniable home advantage over the competition.
Competition begins Wednesday at Lee valley White Water Center at 13h30 with the Men’s C1 heats.